"The purpose of the rally is to bring the kids together and challenge them from a spiritual standpoint about how to make sure that their life is just like it's supposed to be. ... We hope that they will make a commitment to not live a self-centered life but a life that has a greater purpose," said David Franklin, associational missionary for the Bartow Baptist Association. "We hope that they will really hear and decide to have a life purpose that is greater than just living for themselves."
Sponsored by the student ministries of area churches and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the gathering from 6:30 to 8 p.m. will be the first event held at the new Clarence Brown Conference Center, 5450 Ga. Highway 20 in Cartersville. Geared toward middle- and high-school students, the cross-denominational rally will offer free admission to all attendees.
Along with music, the worship service will feature speaker Chris Plekenpol, an U.S. Army veteran who will encourage the youths to "put Christ first."
"See You at the Pole is a national day of prayer for students at their flagpole across the nation," said Jonathan Brantley, student ministry pastor for Cartersville First Baptist Church. "So our students will be participating in that in the morning and then the rally that night. It's been a tradition here in Bartow County over the years for all of the student ministries to get together and meet to have a big worship service and to celebrate what God's been doing and to kind of come together as one big group to pray for our county and our schools.
"So this rally accomplishes that again," he said, adding the event outgrew its previous location at Cartersville High School, and expects to draw more than 1,200 students. "This year, with the specific theme of 'I am second,' which [is a movement] started out in Dallas, Texas, it's just basically saying that when it comes to the things of this world that God, Christ, is greater than me. Hence, 'I am second' and I am going to live and do things in such a way that others see that I don't live for myself."
Designed to reach believers and non-believers, the rally will provide the opportunity for students to strengthen or begin a relationship with Jesus Christ, Brantley said.
"We're hoping that first and foremost that anybody that doesn't know the great message of Jesus Christ will get to hear and know that and understand how it can change their lives," he said. "And then for those that do have that relationship with Christ, we just hope that they see the example that he set when Christ was here on Earth, of the fact that he lived the life that put others first and just did it through simple daily things. He loved others and showed that through his actions, and we hope our students will grasp that and it will be reaffirmed."
The rally will cap off Bartow's See You at the Pole activities, which will begin that morning with middle- and high-school students gathering around their schools' flagpoles to pray before instruction starts.
Started in 1990 with more than 45,000 teenagers praying simultaneously in four different states, the student-initiated and student-led gathering has evolved into a worldwide event on the fourth Wednesday in September in which more than 3 million students participate.
"Overall I would say that across city and county schools in the past, [at] middle and high schools, we've had 1,000 to 1,500 kids participate total," Brantley said about the flagpole meetings. "So once again that's just an awesome thing to sacrifice and be there early and most of our flagpoles are at the very front of the schools, [so you are having] to stand out front [when] your peers are coming in and ... say, 'I'm going to take a stand and I'm not ashamed.'"
For more information about the See You at the Pole Rally, call 770-607-0300.